What If My Dog Doesn’t Like Running with Me?

One of the wonderful things about Habits Coaching and writing a book about running for dogs has been the interaction I get with people and their dogs.  Here is a question I recently receive about a Labrador and the habit of running:

HI Jt … I have a question for you … I have been training with my beautiful yellow labrador for a 5K … on and off for a month and two weeks, running/walk 3 times a day.

My question to you is how do I know that my pup does not like to run … he is a ball of energy but he is running 15 min/mile then 12 min/mile. The other day he lagged behind me from the get go … I am a semi runner … I try 🙂 I just don’t want to force him if it is not his thing … how will I know or for how many weeks into training should I insist?

Thank you for your help!

Great question and one that comes with an introspective answer.  Once again, is the dog reflecting some of our own behavior?  Is it easier to say the dog doesn’t like it than to admit we’d rather have a way out of this next new health endeavor?  Even as a semi runner, how much passion do you actually have to get out there and do it?  Would it be easier to say the dog doesn’t like it and once again start looking for a new avenue to pursue?

Good Habits Don’t Always Come Easily

I clearly remember when I decided I wanted to do a triathlon I didn’t like swimming.  In fact I was really bad at it. I actually had huge fear of it.

I remember in fact getting all worked up about it every time I went to swim.  And I remember standing on race start lines with really loud thoughts in my head about why I was here and how awful it was and maybe I should find something else to do and how stupid it all was and why was I putting myself through this?

Years later I no longer compete but I can say, I love swimming. It has become a thing I do where I find much peace of mind in the pure joy of moving through the water.

I would have never gotten to this point if I wouldn’t have just kept doing it.

Other examples…. your mom made you take piano as a kid. You hated it. Now you have an appreciation for music and understand many things about it you may not have had you not gone to the weekly lesson.

You had to take science in high school.  You hated it.  Now you understand some things about the food chain, the GMO language that is out there, the way you need to deal with a cold or a virus.  You are glad you have some understanding of science now.

The examples go on.

You Think Your Dog Doesn’t Like Running

It may be a new thing for your dog to start running but this a game that will become a habit very much so appreciated in a couple of years.  In order to stay healthy mentally and physically your dog NEEDS exercise.  Especially in this case, the dog is a Labrador!

Structured exercise can be a habit that takes time.  More time than 4 or 6 weeks to feel good about doing it and usually longer than that to learn to love it! Just like love at first site happens here and there, many times it doesn’t last, it was merely an infatuation .  A love developed over time runs deep and the benefits are huge.

You May Be Cuing Your Dog

In my years of training dogs I have found that cuing is a bigger factor than most realize.  It’s just like The Reflection of Dislike.  When we come upon someone we don’t care for so much, the first thing that comes to mind is NOT that we are like them at all.  In fact it is that we see ourselves quite different.  Yet there was a cue there and the reaction is one we can learn from or we can ignore.

Same with dogs.  Your dog is slow or lagging behind.  Are you cuing your dog that it is okay by actually slowing enough to actually stop?  If so the answer here is keep moving.

4 to 6 weeks is still early in becoming a master at anything.  If your dog is moving slower than you’d like it may not be that your dog doesn’t like it.  It’s just that at this point the dog may be moving slower than you are comfortable with.  YOU start projecting your dog doesn’t like it.  Your dog just needs to have gym class be part of the curriculum until it becomes easy and normal and something you both have made a habit of doing.  It becomes something you look forward to.

Keep moving. And be patient. Don’t stop and continue to develop the habit.

The Benefits of Running with Dogs (especially a Lab) Are Huge

Running with your dog is not only going to keep you both fit and healthy but will indeed begin to clear your mind.  It becomes a form of meditation.  It does take time to get there.

Think of it like the practice of yoga.  When most people start it’s about trying to achieve the pose.  It ends up becoming something that quiets the mind.  It takes time before reaching the point of really pushing everything out of your mind and only concentrating on the breath.  You don’t get to that point in 4 to 6 weeks.

So why would we expect to get that same effect with running in just a few weeks?  Even if you do happen to be a dog?  Commit to 3 times a week for 6 months and then do it for a year.

If you need support to do that I am here.

Aloha wags!  Mahalo for reading.  If you liked this post please subscribe to Big Island Dog and follow me on Pinterest, Twitter and G+

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Jt Clough lives on the Big Island, Hawaii, and practices health, happiness and natural remedies, while working as a Habits Coach for people looking to live healthier and happier lives.  She is a dog whisperer for our best friends; and studies natural dog remedies, nutrition and communication.  Her latest e-book is 5K Training Guide | Running with Dogs.


One Response to What If My Dog Doesn’t Like Running with Me?
  1. Sandra
    July 10, 2012 | 5:18 am

    If you can teach my dog, a 2 year-old German Shorthaired Pointer named Charlie, to do Yoga you are Magic!

    When we got Charlie we were told that he is trained to sleep in a crate at night…HA!…he breaks out of a locked crate, and if the windows aren’t locked he slides them open with his nose, pushes out the screen, jumps 12 feet to the ground and takes himself for runs in the mountains before coming back home and “innocently” waiting on the porch to be let back in…I love Charlie dearly, but the boy is a mess!